The Inca empire dominated pre-Columbian South America leaving behind and awe-inspiring legacy that includes the famous city of Machu Picchu. Their ascent was powered by quinoa, an adaptable plant grown for its tiny, edible seeds that are known as the rice of the Incas.
From the Andes to Space
The history of this plant is a curious one. While Spanish conquerors brought to Europe American crops like potatoes or corn, they didn’t do the same with quinoa. As a result, it was a marginal food until not so long ago, and it was consumed mainly by farmers in Bolivia and Peru.
However, quinoa made a comeback. And what a comeback. Quinoa is so well regarded that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is considering growing it inside spacecrafts to support crews on long-term missions.
As usual, NASA’s suspicions are correct. This plant is so adaptable that it can grow in a wide variety of circumstances, from sea level to elevations of up to 13,000 feet. Moreover, it’s a low maintenance crop that requires little in the way of work and supplies.
Quinoa is a “superfood” and the list of benefits it provides is staggering. Its seeds are gluten free, and just one cup (185 grams) is a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, folate, copper, iron, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6.
One of the most interesting peculiarities of quinoa is that it contains complete proteins. Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. And while most animal proteins are complete, that’s rarely the case for plant proteins. This plant is one of the few exceptions, making it incredibly attractive for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
However, keep in mind that quinoa is coated in saponine, a bitter-tasting compound. If you are allergic to quinoa o sensitive to saponine, remember to wash quinoa to get rid of this compound.
Try Our Lemon-Garlic Shrimp With Quinoa!
At Chef Gourmet we love Quinoa so much that we have included it among our Gourmet Prepared Meals. Our Lemon-Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa will delight you with its daring combination of flavors and textures.
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